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Monthly Archives: December, 2003

RIAA: The Cards Explained

Despite the RIAA’s claims that their increasingly aggressive actions are in the name of protecting artist’s rights and income, this iTunes spoof website offers an in-depth and accurate explanation of why this is absolute BS. Lots of other interesting related info is also on the site. A must for RIAA watchers, I give it 10 out of 10.

“People are paying for songs on the iTunes Music Store because they think it’s a good way to support musicians. But by giving musicians just a few cents from each sale, iTunes destroys a huge opportunity. Instead of creating a system that gets virtually all of fans’ money directly to artists– finally possible with the internet– iTunes takes a big step backwards. Apple calls iTunes “revolutionary” but really they’re just letting record companies force the same exploitive and unfair business model onto a new medium…”

Emergency! Emergency! Everyone to get from street!

Been noticing lately that the occasional whispering about the potential for martial law has increased in volume and frequency? Me, too. So today I looked around and found some interesting stuff and posted it on ddjangoWIrE. There’s also this post from Monday.

Be at peace.

The real jobless total for the U.S. hits 9.7%

The official unemployment rate in the United States sits at 5.9%. But as this article from the LA Times notes, the true rate is around 9.7% if you factor in the underemployed and those that have stopped searching for work.

This more comprehensive calculation is sometimes referred to as the U7 rate.

Mad Cow USA

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber’s Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? is now available as a free download [PDF file].

This 1997 book examined how practices within the meat industry created the British Mad Cow epidemic and warned that the disease would soon make its way to American shores. Quite prescient, eh?

“To be born in misery and deprivation is not one’s fault;
to create and foster it is insidious.”

Person of the YearThink they are waiting until after the election to revive the draft? Sorry, but it is already here. They just don’t call it that yet. In a wonderful yet troubling tribute, writer Manuel Valenzuela of Axis of Logic agrees with Time magazine in their selection of the American Soldier as “Person of the Year”:

The ultimate sacrifice is being paid for reasons that few comprehend, in circumstances that yearn to be understood and for a reality that is hard to believe and accept. The excuses have been many, and many have been impeachable lies and shams. Freedom and democracy are but the latest, found at the bottom of the barrel by Bush, in a last act of desperation, being the hardest to implement, therefore the hardest to prove wrong and question. Now our soldiers are made to believe these audacious deceits, when in fact they die and suffer for much more sinister motives.

For these reasons, like Time, I agree that our heroic men and women, in overcoming so much with so little and in spite of everything the elite few have done to endanger their lives and futures, should be named 2003’s Person of the Year. The reasons, however, are altogether different. Like so many, I am for our soldiers, against the war, and this article is dedicated to all those who through no fault of their own find themselves caught inside the most frightful nightmare they will ever be forced to endure.

An important reading.

Perhaps as good a sign of this as any is the now frequent issuance to our troops of “stop-loss” orders, orders preventing them from separating from the military on their agreed-upon date. The Washington Post takes a look at this in “Army Stops Many Soldiers From Quitting“:
According to their contracts, expectations and desires, all three soldiers should have been civilians by now. But Fontaine and Costas are currently serving in Iraq, and Eagle has just been deployed. On their Army paychecks, the expiration date of their military service is now listed sometime after 2030 — the payroll computer’s way of saying, “Who knows?”

The three are among thousands of soldiers forbidden to leave military service under the Army’s “stop-loss” orders, intended to stanch the seepage of troops, through retirement and discharge, from a military stretched thin by its burgeoning overseas missions.

So much for the “all volunteer” military.

Ritter, Kelly solicited by MI6 for disinformation

Scott Ritter, who led the UNSCOM Iraq weapons inspections team from 1996 to 1998, and David Kelly, Ritter’s subordinate at that time and the current U.S. leader of the hunt for Iraqi WMDs, were both solicted by MI6 (Britain’s CIA equivalent) in that group’s effort to exagerate the Iraqi WMD threat, Ritter himself has revealed. Ritter, a stanch opponent of the current Iraq War, said that there was evidence that MI6 continued to use similar propaganda tactics up to the invasion of Iraq earlier this year. “Stories ran in the media about secret underground facilities in Iraq and ongoing programmes (to produce weapons of mass destruction),” said Ritter. “They were sourced to western intelligence and all of them were garbage.”

When God goes to war

Religions usually espouse peace and goodwill, so why have they sparked so many conflicts? Karen Armstrong, author of the remarkable “A History of God“, offers her thoughts in today’s Guardian on how Western monotheism has always fell victim to the more violent aspects of human nature. Now with Bill Moyers also offers a transcript of an interview with her. Both are fairly brief an worthwhile reading. That said, if you are at all interested in the development and traditions of Western monotheism, by all means, read her breakthrough “A History of God”. A most scholarly work, it was the book that caused this Atheist to believe once again that religion at its very best is a quite beautiful thing.

No, I didn’t convert back. I simply found a new and great respect for what is there.

US SOB Wolfowitz

I’ll offer a a link to Noam Chomsky’s article ” Dictators R Us“. One need only consider the 2000 presidential election to see proof positive of the contempt the GOP holds for democracy. History shows that the US government has a long history of support for dictators pliant to will of corporate capital. America’s “Friendly Dictator” trading cards are a really clear and straightforward resource (circa 1990) reminding us that Saddam Hussein is one of a long line of unsavory murderous dictators that might best be described with a paraphrasing of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s comment about Somoza Sr. ( yes, there was a Jr. too) – “Hussein may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

Until reading the Chomsky article I had no idea that Paul Wolfowitz was ambassador to Indonesia during the reign of Suharto, a dictator who’s murderousness makes Saddam Hussein look like a rank amateur at political torture and the spilling of blood..

As Mark Zepezauer puts it in The CIA’s Greatest Hits: “On a per-capita basis, East Timor is the greatest genocide since the Holocaust. Combined with the 1965 killings and other Indonesian atrocities, it puts Suharto in the first rank of twentieth-century mass murders, right up there with Hitler, Stalin, the Turks who massacred the Armenians in 1915 and the generals who run Guatemala.”

A bit on Wolfowitz and Suharto’s Indonesia;

Wolfowitz is worse on Indonesia, where he forged close ties with the intelligence and corporate elite. In May 1997, a year before Suharto was driven out of office, Wolfowitz told Congress of “the significant progress” Indonesia has made under the “strong and remarkable leadership of President Suharto”. In an interview on PBS in February 2000, Wolfowitz was asked about General Wiranto, who had just been forced to resign after being named by Indonesian authorities as the mastermind of the 1999 military rampage in East Timor. He praised Wiranto as “the general who commanded the army during the first elections in Indonesian history”. Wiranto “may have done bad things in East Timor or failed to stop bad things in East Timor, but that’s what makes it so tricky,” he added.

The case of Wolfowitz illustrates that support for dictators is not a solely a Republican policy; administrations of both Republicans and Democratic presidents have supported the corporate interests of their contributors rather than exporting the American ideal of Democracy.

East Timor, which was invaded and occupied in 1975 by Indonesia with US weapons – a security policy backed and partly shaped by Holbrooke and Wolfowitz. “Paul and I,” he said, “have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep [East Timor] out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests.”

East Timor is a classic example of the bipartisan nature of US foreign policy during the Cold War – and the secrecy surrounding US military support for authoritarian leaders like president Suharto, who ruled Indonesia from the US-backed coup in 1965 until his downfall in 1998. There is an unbroken link from the Ford-Kissinger years, when the US backed Suharto’s invasion of the former Portuguese territory. This continued through the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton eras, when US policy focused on supporting Suharto’s military and burnishing his image to the world.

I’d urge you to read the full links.

The present administration lied to the American people about a need to attack Iraq due to the threat of “weapons of mass destruction” and now is courting public opinion with talk of importing democracy to the middle east, starting with Iraq. Read about what Paul Wolfowitz sees as “Democracy”. Things plainly are not looking too good…

Insurgents are Civilians

Robert Fisk of the UK Independent is doing some of the best first person analysis coming out of Iraq today. In this story, he takes to task a number of different actions taken by coalition forces and how the coalition ended up “reporting” them. His wry conclusion is inescapable:

So let’s get this right. Insurgents are civilians. Truck bombs and tanks that crush civilians are traffic accidents. And the “liberated” civilians who live in villages surrounded by razor wire should endure “a heavy dose of fear and violence” to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Somewhere along the way, they will probably be told about democracy as well.

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